IN THIS SECTION
August 5, 2021
We are excited to welcome students back to campus, and we are working to put all of the pieces together to ensure that our return to school is full of robust and engaging opportunities for all of our students.
We have learned a lot in the last year and are structuring plans built on mitigating risks while creating positive academic and co-curricular moments for students and families. We know that our students learn best when on campus in class, so all of our classes will be taught in person. If students must be away from school, they will learn using a combination of resources to include class recordings, assignments in Canvas or Seesaw, and meeting with teachers during in-person or virtual office hours.
I am pleased to share that we will be bringing back many of the experiences and programs that were paused last year, including after-school enrichment classes for students at Memphis and Germantown, with some additional COVID risk considerations. In addition, we will continue to offer in-person and virtual options for events, as we will still limit the number of visitors on campus.
With respect to COVID, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control are recommending that all eligible individuals should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the AAP and the CDC recommend universal masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools. The Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Back-to-School Task Force Recommendations include that during periods of elevated community transmission masks should be worn every day as much as possible by students and staff.
We have thought long and hard about the right way to start the school year, with the health and safety of our own students, teachers, staff and the greater St. George’s community being foremost in our minds. At the start of the summer, we were excited by the return to normal that seemed inevitable. The changing face of the Delta variant has made us alter our starting plan. We have reviewed the guidance from health professionals and the information shared by concerned parents. The most recent guidance from Le Bonheur speaks to the reality of COVID in Shelby County that is unavoidable. After careful consideration, and in recognition that we have a significant number of students at all three campuses who are not eligible for vaccinations, we have determined that face coverings will be required while in the buildings for all faculty, staff, and students in PK-12th grade. We will revisit this policy regularly and will share updates as we have them.
We will continue to contact trace students and employees in cooperation with the Shelby County Health Department. Contact tracing is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and helps protect you, your family, and the community. Isolation is required for those who test positive for COVID-19. Unvaccinated students and employees and those who are vaccinated and are symptomatic will be required to quarantine following a known exposure. The school will assume students and employees are unvaccinated for contact tracing until proof of vaccination is provided. Known exposure is defined as: physical distance within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer with or without masks worn. Should the need arise for a student to be isolated or quarantined, the school asks that arrangements be made for the student to be taken home as soon as possible. It is important that students who have symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and isolate themselves from other people in the home.
We recognize that not everyone is of the same mind when it comes to how we handle the current situation we are facing. Nonetheless, we also know that we have a role to play in tending to the health and safety of others. We sincerely hope that you will support these adaptations for the short-term in order to allow us to start school. These layered prevention strategies will provide the best opportunity for us to welcome your child back to school and minimize the risk of illness in our community.
Changes in key metrics such as hospitalization rates, level of community spread or the emergence of a localized “hot spot,” as well as other emerging information about the COVID-19 virus and related guidance, will be the metrics we monitor for changes to our protocols.
We look forward to welcoming your children back to campus.
Head Of School
Tennessee Department of Health: Returning to School
Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to structure school by mitigating risks while creating positive academic and co-curricular moments for students, families, teachers and coaches. We know our students learn best when on campus in class and St. George’s is committed to providing a safe, place-based education where teaching and learning happen in person. Our relational approach is best supported when teachers and students can be on campus. Engagement with academic content and social emotional learning is most effective when students and teachers are in person.
In updated guidance for the 2021-22 school year, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends in-person learning and urges all who are eligible to be vaccinated to protect against COVID-19.
Vaccinated people notified as being a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case with no symptoms may continue to attend school on campus. Unvaccinated people who have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 must be away from campus after exposure. While the amount of time away from campus will vary depending on the situation, in most cases this will be a relatively limited period of time. In this instance, continued learning will be supported using a combination of resources to include class recordings, assignments in Canvas or Seesaw, and teachers available to meet daily during virtual office hours if necessary.
In the event circumstances require an entire academic cohort of students to be learning away from campus, the affected group will learn using a combination of resources. These may incldue class recordings, virtual office hours, scheduled live time during which the student will participate in virtual classroom lessons via Zoom and student responses to learning or assignments from their off-campus location through submission of classwork using Canvas or Seesaw.
Our goal is to have students physcially present on campus. While every effort will be made to prevent a substantial closure, recognize it may be appropriate to close one division, campus, or the entire school. St. George's will consult with state and county public health officials prior to finalizing a decision to close. We stand ready to pivot from in-person to distance learning for PK-12 so that distruption can be minimized. The schedule eblow would be implemented in the event of a division, full campus or school-wide closure.